To register for “Stitching Buddhas, The Workshop: a three-day introduction to the Tibetan art of sewing sacred beauty,” click to contact Leslie.
Commission your very own silk thangka made especially for you. Let it inspire you every day. Write me to find out how.
Earlier this month, I enjoyed another heart-expanding annual retreat with my Stitching Buddas apprentices. Once a year, students in the virtual apprenticeship have the opportunity to gather in person for stitching instruction, meditation, camaraderie, and collaboration. I always learn so much from my students and am repeatedly surprised by how meaningful this work has become in their lives. And how powerful it is in forging connections.
I don’t know whether it’s the wonderful women I attract and their readiness to use all the material of their lives for growth.
Or if it’s something I convey to them in my own approach to the work.
Or if it’s the innate power of the Buddhas, a force infused in the iconography of the images we are stitching.
I guess it’s some combination of the three. Whatever it is, it’s powerful!
I teach stitches, and extraordinary things open up in student’s lives.
Plus, we laugh, a lot.
We came together to stitch and spent the whole time in stitches!
– Louise Burnet Munoz, Pau, France
Your thangkas are most magnificent in real life. I am visualizing Buddha in my meditations much more clearly as a result so I thank you deeply for that.
Stitching Buddhas is a wonderful, living journey of artistry unlike any other!
– Himani Ellis, Fairplay, CO
The Stitching Buddhas program not only teaches a unique Tibetan form of needle work, it also encourages one to reflect on the images and meaning and to not only be mindful of the process but also of being fully present with oneself. The program also brings together unique but like-minded people from around the world. And the retreat cements that association and connection. I left the retreat with a sense of truly belonging to a Stitching Buddhas Sangha.
No matter what level of skill you are at – the retreat propels you forward and up to another level.
– Kerryn Coombe, Melbourne, Australia
I had the privilege of assisting Leslie and her students at the Stitching Buddhas retreat last week. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced with people taking a class… I was really amazed by the interactions. Everybody was so dedicated, helping each other.
Even knowing that people had paid and traveled from afar to be there, I didn’t expect them to be so motivated. They REALLY WANTED TO BE THERE and it showed.
They were in a beautiful beach house, the weather was great, there was so much to do, some had come for their first visit to California… and all these people wanted to do was to stay inside and get as much time with Leslie and the thangkas as possible!
There was such an intensity of involvement, you would have thought they all knew each other before. But they didn’t — except online, in their Stitching Buddhas forum and calls.
It didn’t matter that most lived on different continents. They were all connected through the work.
– Debbie Echevarria, Your Business Support, Ventura, CA
If you’d like to connect your own spiritual path with creative practice in this way, take a look at the Stitching Buddhas Virtual Apprentice Program. The sangha doors are open!
And for more photos from the retreat visit my Facebook Page and view the Stitching Buddhas Retreat photo album! “Like” the page while you’re there!
This is the second in a series of posts highlighting the work of my Stitching Buddhas virtual apprentices.
I have the extraordinary fortune of working with an amazing group of creative, spiritually-oriented, fiber-loving, and growth-hungry, women from around the globe. I do my best to pass on to them a bit of what I learned from my teachers in Dharamsala. These women blow me away with what they glean through the web and through our conversations.
Today, meet Helen Bagnall from the northwestern U.S. who just completed the six-month fundamentals course of the Stitching Buddhas Virtual Apprentice Program and has chosen to continue her studies in the Practice Stage.
What do you most enjoy about Stitching Buddhas?
I like the whole process of getting the silk ready, preparing the horsehair cords and threads, then couching the cords and folding back the fabric to reveal the forms, and bringing them together to form an image. I also like learning a process that has centuries of history behind it. After seeing Leslie’s work and watching the documentary about her, then finding out that she was teaching the art, I was hooked. When I saw the colors and the silk and the horsehair cords defining the forms, I wanted to learn how to do that.
What did you learn?
As a non-Buddhist (I’m a Protestant), I have enjoyed learning about symbolism and meaning in Buddhist images that I have never understood, and how objects in the pictures have meaning. I am starting to look at thankgas and see more detail now. I can now appreciate their value in meditation practices to improve one’s character.
What challenges did you overcome?
Wrapping horsehair at the beginning was my most challenging task. I felt out of control at first, and nothing went right, but after making the first cord, it got better. It still isn’t always a sure thing that my cords will turn out smoothly, but most of the time they do.
Finding the time and changing my priorities to make this a priority so I can learn the art is also a big challenge.
And what does this practice bring you?
It gives me an art and craft to focus on (I have tried different crafts at various times) so I can grow and improve and hopefully get really good at it over time. I also appreciate the spiritual benefits of doing something by hand that slows down the busyness of life.
What do you love about practicing with fabric?
I love working with beautiful Varanasi silk. The Varanasi silk is better than any I have seen previously. I love the colors. I feel rich having pieces Varanasi silk in different colors.
Click here to read about another Stitching Buddhas virtual apprentice, Gloria Gates.
And here to learn more about virtual apprenticeship.
The Fiber Art Master Pieces exhibition runs through March 31, 2013. The museum is open Tues thru Sat 10-4 and Sun 12-4.
Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W. Ojai Avenue Ojai, CA 93023.